Insider: Shifts in Dealer Prices and New Tournaments

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Rules are meant to be broken. You’ve heard this saying before, usually by some rebel in a class you were in, but it can apply in lots of areas.

For example, Wizards frequently breaks the rules of Magic. You could say that energy breaks a fundamental rule of the game: that mana is the only resource. Whether it's alternate costs for cards, cheating giant monsters into play, or individual cards that change the game from how it's normally played, we are used to seeing situations where what we know about the game differs from the norm.

Cards that break the basic rules of the game are good to keep your eye on financially as well – there’s a reason Platinum Angel is still worth money even after being reprinted. In the finance world these opportunities tend to pop up less often, but I think things are about to change. Many writers have spoken about the implications of the Masterpiece Series, but I believe we are about to see a shift directly influenced by this new rarity that has now become a permanent addition to our game. This process didn’t start with Expeditions, though, so let’s go back to where it really started.

Mythic Rares

In one of my favorite blocks of all time, Shards of Alara, we were introduced to the new mythic rare rarity. This new level of card you could (but weren't guaranteed to) open in a pack had a direct influence on card prices. Once there were mythics involved, rares had a ceiling, which with only a few exceptions, was pretty set in stone.

After a little bit of some sky-is-falling mentality, players were on board. Some of the cards in the set would still be valuable, while the prices of most of the rest of the cards would be much lower. If the community needed to open more packs for all of us to get the Sarkhan Vols or Rafiq of the Manys we were looking for, this at least left more copies of the normal rares like Broodmate Dragon and Cruel Ultimatum floating around the market for us to buy, and at lower prices than we could have previously expected.

The Masterpiece Series is doing the same exact thing to the other rarities as mythics did to rares. Here’s how I noticed this phenomenon in action.

What do all of these mythics have in common? They are all basically worthless. What I noted was that players love selling these to my shop. We have fifty of each of these and that’s not even that many. I’m sure the bigger online stores have tons of these cards lying around in boxes collecting dust. Who buys cards like this? Certainly there is a market out there for every type of card, but the market for bulk mythics is quite slim.

The decision my business partner and I made was that we were going to break the mold of having an automatic buy price of 25 cents on any mythic rare. Dealers everywhere have always had this rule about any mythic being at minimum a quarter. What I’m seeing is that some of the mythics from the M15-border era are only worth that much or a little more – at retail.

As the owner of a shop, I can’t expect anyone to pay much more than what the online price is for a card, so we adjusted our buy prices for these bulk mythics to 10 cents, the same as any bulk rare. I’m sure some casual players will be excited to grab these types of cards out of the bulk rare box, though, so they are not worthless, just undesirable.

After I made this change to my pricing structure this week, one of my employees did some research for me and found out that some other stores are following this trend as well. This is a good indication of change in the financial community. When multiple companies come to the same conclusion independently, the result usually sticks.

Although I have not confirmed this change for my shop, I think we are headed the same way with foil rares as well. What we need to keep in mind with big changes to Magic finance like this is that there are so many more Magic cards being made now than in the past. If we use our comparison of Shards of Alara block, the majority of players today haven’t even been playing since that set was in Standard. What that means is that the player base now compared to back then is not even double – it's much higher than merely double.

That brings me to my next point, bulk commons and uncommons.

Bulk Commons and Uncommons

For many years now, dealers have had an unspoken agreement that bulk commons and uncommons would have a buy price of around $5 per thousand cards. Before the introduction of mythic rares, we used to see rates above that threshold, but once that new rarity hit the scene, dealers adapted to the influx of packs being cracked in order to have a chance to open a mythic.

While you could occasionally find some companies willing to go above the $5-per-thousand mark, the vast majority of companies held strong to that number. I’ve purchased and sold many thousands of bulk cards at this rate myself. Lately, though, it’s been a struggle to find dealers willing to buy your bulk at as much as $5. My store lowered our price to $3 per thousand a while ago, and many others have as well.

If you are into sorting your bulk, you could get a higher rate. There are many companies out there that reward your preparation with higher buy prices on bulk from older sets. Everyone has a different business model, but most of these changes are following the flow of price corrections from the Masterpieces Series.

The below is the bulk buy price model of a large online retailer, and many others are quite similar. This is the direction I would expect many companies to move in as well. So your course of action might be to unload some extra cards before the prices reach this low across the board.

Bulk Buy Prices
Any MTG common, uncommon or basic land - $2.00 per 1000
Any MTG rare or mythic (FOIL or NON-FOIL)- $0.10
Any FOIL MTG common, uncommon, promo or basic land - $0.03

Exciting New Changes

Wizards is rolling out some exciting new additions for Magic. They recently posted an article on the Wizards Play Network. I don’t think a lot of hype was generated, but my store is on board and we are really excited! Here’s the break down.

There are basically two new parts. The first is an extension of the Buy-a-Box promotion that always happens with each set release. This time, though, if you buy a box for Christmas, you will get a different promo than when Kaladesh first released. In fact, you won’t just get a promo, you will get a new kind of pack.

Additionally, you can get a new kind of pack by participating or doing well in a Standard Showdown. This new event is basically like an in-person version of Daily Events on MTGO. The difference is that you can get these new Showdown packs as prize support.

There's a basis to compare both Buy-a-Box packs and Showdown packs to the old Guru program or something similar to what Yu-Gi-Oh! does for its prize support with OTS packs. Either way, here is what you can expect if you participate and get one of these packs:

Each of these packs can contain cards from any Standard legal set and include:
- One foil of any rarity or a card from the Masterpiece Series (drop rate 1/50)
- One rare or mythic rare
- One uncommon, rare, mythic rare, or full-art basic land

Now that’s an exciting addition to the prize pool!

Spread the word to your shop if you want to participate in this program. I think this is a great addition to the normal FNM routine and could really build up our community even more. What do you think about the Standard Showdown and Holiday Buy-a-Box? Let me know in the comments.

Eternal Weekend is also happening in Columbus this weekend, so if you see me around, feel free to stop and say hi. I’m always willing to make time to discuss whatever’s on your mind.

Until next time,
Unleash the Finance Force!

Mike Lanigan
@MtgJedi on Twitter

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